Sunday, January 13, 2008

Watch Your Language You #%@&!

I wrote this back in Sap-timber, yet it is still just as relevant.
Calling us transgenders, disordered, retarded, morons, hysterical, freak shows, etc; calling trans*folk you disagree with trannies, men in dresses, pseudo-intellectuals, gay men (or women or lesbians if the trans*person is a guy), perpetuating stereotypes, "Tranny [Lastname]", hoping their transition goes horribly, speculating that their transition went horribly, etc.

Comparing the spending of time and money on bathrooms to supporting NAMBLA is so fucking wrong I have no words.
Telling us we aren't important and our struggles shouldn't make the news... yeah, getting murdered and arrested for using the bathroom totally isn't important. Fighting for our rights is always important and it should always be supported.
Not wanting to listen to bigoted speech is not silencing debate. When we tell off people for their obvious cissexism, like telling us to get to the back of the line or calling us freaks, it doesn't mean we can't take criticism or can't see other peoples' sides. It means that we won't take bigotry laying down and we won't accept hate.
By the way, I'm reposting this rant mostly because of the comments on several trans*-related articles on Queerty, a GLBT website. That's right, trans* people, queer people, and our allies were the ones saying this. Someone called Theresa Sparks "Tranny Sparks" because she returned her award to the HRC (btw Sparks, go girl!). A gay man called a trans*guy hysterical, the article about him struggling to use the men's room contrived, compared spending money on us to spending money on NAMBLA, as well as a host of other things. The actual article on the youtube video of a trans*woman getting trash thrown at her said, " A reader sent us this irksome, yet entertaining video of some British boys harassing an obviously delirious tranny, with this note attached..." Then some of the commenters went on to say she deserved to get attacked because of how she acted and how dare she go out in such a short skirt?! Several trans*women got into an argument on an article about Susan Stanton. A few Harry Benjamin Syndrome (HBS) women were calling my friend, because she doesn't want surgery and sometimes identifies as a shemale, a man and refusing to see her as a women; comparing her calling herself a woman to calling herself a turnip. My friend, retaliated by attacking one of the trans* woman's appearance.
Cissexism, transphobia, sexism, etc. are alive and well even among those who claim they are our allies; even among ourselves. This, I think, is what disheartens me the most. How divided we are. How quickly we judge. How ignorant of others' experiences and feelings. How hateful we can be.
I know I'm guilty too, we all are.

******
Can we stop using trans*, trans, transgender, gay, etc. as nouns?
You say blah blah blah a trans*person--not blah blah blah a trans*.
I am not a gay--I am a gay (or queer) person.
I am not a transgender--I am a transgender (or transgendered or trans*) person.

When talking about including or excluding trans*folk, can you, especially if you are yourself trans*(!!!), refer to cis* folk as just that--cissexed, cisgender, or cis*folk! If you don't like, don't know, or know that it would cause waaay more drama to do so, then at least call cis*folk "non-trans* folk".
When you talk about trans*women and women as two separate groups you reinforce the idea that trans*women aren't women (and you are a trans*woman!).

"Trans*folk/women are to cis*women as white folk are to black folk" fails as an analogy; find one that actually makes sense.

I have asked this before. What is the one experience or set of experiences that every cis*woman [everywhere of all backgrounds, races, class, nationalities, etc.] has had that no male-assigned person [anywhere of any class, race, nationality, etc.] has ever experienced?
What is this all-encompassing female experience?

PS: You automatically fail at life (-42 points) if you mention or talk about, in all seriousness, "Trans* Politics", "Trans* Agenda", "Trans* Lobby" or anything similar.

69 comments:

queen emily said...

>>>I have asked this before. What is the one experience or set of experiences that every cis*woman [everywhere of all backgrounds, races, class, nationalities, etc.] has had that no male-assigned person [anywhere of any class, race, nationality, etc.] has ever experienced?
What is this all-encompassing female experience?

Patriarchal oppression encoded on the second X chromosome?

bint alshamsa said...

I've never seen even ONE person who could come up with an factual answer to that question. The fact that I am a cisgendered woman does not mean that I have ANY experiences that are impossible for a male-assigned person to have also gone through.

bint alshamsa said...

By the way, I'm adding you to my blog-roll. I can't believe I hadn't done it already!

Drakyn said...

Curious, what was their answer? The only answer I've ever seen was something about experiencing a "girlhood under patriarchy". Which means absolutely nothing.
A feminine trans*girl would most definitely have something in common, with say, a feminine cis*girl whose parents didn't like femininity or "girlishness".
And trans*girls who come out as children and live as girls most definitely have a "girlhood under patriarchy" (whatever it means).

And thanks. ^.^
I need to add more folks to my blogroll, but I'll do that after I fill out applications (and finish up my free trial of WOW)...

bint alshamsa said...

Oh I've seen a boatload of illogical and erroneous answers to that question. For example, there's the idea that only cisgendered women are born with the potential to give birth. Unfortunately, not all cisgendered women are born with this potential so that answer doesn't really work. I've seen people say that cisgendered women are born into second-class status. Of course, so are people with disabilities, people of color, people whose appearance does not conform to societal expectaions. There's a whole range of wrong answers to the question and absolutely no logical ones.

Elly said...

Hi,

I don't really understand why it's bad to use trans (or gay, or whatever) as a noun ?

I mean, I think the process of transforming an adjective into a noun is pretty "natural" since it is, well, shorter.

I mean, don't we say "WWW is a muslim, XXX is a liberal, YYY is a republican, ZZZ is a geek" ? Is it necessary to put "person" after all this ? (maybe it is, i don't know, it's just that I don't understand)

Drakyn said...

Elly, it's person-first speaking. Sure, some words are already nouns or used as nouns (geek, lesbian, transsexual, etc).
But it doesn't work for other words and is actually rather demeaning. Would you talk about "Islamists" instead of Muslims?
Would you say someone is "a black" or "a disabled"? No, because black and disabled are both adjectives that describe a person (and Islam is the name of the religion while those who practice it are Muslims).
It's a concept I've seen a lot around the websites and blogs of activists for people with disabilities. (For instance, http://www.asha.org/about/publications/journal-abstracts/submissions/person_first.htm and http://www.disabilityisnatural.com/peoplefirstlanguage.htm)

Moreover, other than Muslims, those groups you mentioned are not and have not historically been oppressed and marginalized and seen as less-than-people.

Elly said...

"Elly, it's person-first speaking. Sure, some words are already nouns or used as nouns (geek, lesbian, transsexual, etc). "

Does that mean that it's ok to say "a transsexual" but not "a transgender" or "a trans" ?
I knew the precise meaning was different but I always thought that their usage was the same.


"But it doesn't work for other words and is actually rather demeaning. Would you say someone is "a black" or "a disabled"? No, because black and disabled are both adjectives that describe a person"

I'm sorry, but I don't understand that very well either. It's not that I don't believe you, but english is not my mother tongue: when I speak english I avoid saying these words because I know that if I say them some people will react badly, but in french we usually say "a black", "a disabled", "a jew" or "a trans" and I don't think it's problematic (but maybe it's just because we're late on these questions).

Ok, maybe this isn't the good place for an english course :) But from what I understand the basic idea is to say that being trans, gay, black, etc., doesn't define them. Does that mean that people who think it is an important part of their identity use it as a noun ? E.g., a person who self-defines as trans but doesn't want to fit exactly in neither gender could prefer using "a female trans" than "a trans woman" ?

Drakyn said...

Sorry, I didn't realize that English isn't your first language.
Unfortunately, due to the poor education many public schools in the US offer, there are kids and young people who don't know the difference between nouns and adjectives (the stories my sister tells of her classmates...) so I assumed--I apologize.

And I don't mind explaining--it's not like you're asking deeply personal questions or anything. ^.^

Transsexual is generally seen as a noun, but due to how many people have been treated, some transsexual folks still prefer to use it as an adjective. Transgender and trans* are adjectives and should not be used as nouns.

Identities and labels are often defined differently for every person--what queer means to me is often entirely different than what it means to another queer person. There are general definitions like queer means "not-heterosexual", but any more specific than that gets far more complicated.
So some trans*folk for whom trans*ism (my preferred term for all forms of transsexuality, transgenderism, etc) is a major part of their gender might prefer "transman" or "transwoman". Some trans*folk who identify as people with transsexual pasts and/or a medical condition might prefer "trans man" or "trans woman"; or they might identify as "a man who happens to have a medical condition" or "a woman with a transsexual past".
Sorry, it is really complicated even for native speakers who have been involved with and have read a lot from trans*folks.

If it helps, I'm working on a definitions post right now--I'm waiting for some feedback on a forum as to what else I should include and then I just have to proofread.

Drakyn said...

Oh yeah, if you (or anyone else for that matter) wants to know what one of the less common words means or what my personal definition of a word is, just ask.

Stassa said...

If I may, since French is my second language.

Elly, I think the confustion comes from the lack of a gendered article in English.

In French you can't refer to a person without giving gender information- you can't just say "a transsexual", you have to say "un transsexuel" or "une transsexuelle." So you don't really need to say "un homme trans" "une femme trans", or, equally, "un homme noir", "une femme noire" (which sounds a bit funny actually) as we don't say that in Greek either for the same reason.

In fact, in Greek, the rude way to refer to a trans person is in the neutral, so, though the finer points of everyday English still elude me, I think that's why it's offensive to English-speaking peeps to just say "a trans" or "a transsexual."

That said, I generally refer to myself as "a transsexual". But, again, English is not my first language.

Nick Kiddle said...

What is the one experience or set of experiences that every cis*woman [everywhere of all backgrounds, races, class, nationalities, etc.] has had that no male-assigned person [anywhere of any class, race, nationality, etc.] has ever experienced?

I think it's just like the "procreative principle" that all hetero relationships are based on, which is why they're allowed to get married and same-sex couples aren't.

cicely said...

As someone who once supported the so called WBW boundary at michfest only on the grounds of shared girlhood - i.e - being perceived and acted upon by the world as female from birth - I'm going to be explaining what *I* meant by that in detail when I go to the festival boards to explain my change of mind. I think there's an important discussion to be had around this, but it never seems to move beyond the reactionary level - i.e. WBW saying 'We're being attacked! We have a right to space without trans women, they're not like us and here's why...'

They don't go into where their ideas came from - 'they' being the women who do accept trans women as women, who reject the anti-trans politics, or think they're rejecting them more to the point in some cases I think, and that's something I do plan to talk about in my own case. I'm hoping that this will resonate with others.

I'm feeling a bit guilty about how long it's taking me to get this done, but I am short of time and I want to have the time actually put aside to respond thoughtfully and carefully to the comments that come back.

Spirit said...

"Oh I've seen a boatload of illogical and erroneous answers to that question. For example, there's the idea that only cisgendered women are born with the potential to give birth."

There is 'illogic' on both sides. The assertion that a middle aged man, going threw surgery is suddenly a woman rather reduces women to a vagina and breasts having no particular consitution from life. This is a male singularly male perspective that a woman is what they see having no internal life or any kind of a gendered standpoint.

"I've never seen even ONE person who could come up with an factual answer to that question. The fact that I am a cisgendered woman does not mean that I have ANY experiences that are impossible for a male-assigned person to have also gone through."

Here is your answer. No woman has an experiemtial backdrop of living in life as a fully enfranchised man with male privileges. That experience is backdrop for every future experience and women do not have that backdrop.

Now you have an answer to your question.

cicely said...

There is no 'suddenly a woman' about it, I don't think, spirit. That reduces the transexual experience to what is visible. Cisexual persons do not have a monopoly on 'internal life or any kind of a gendered standpoint.'

Spirit said...

As I describe this, I am thinking of an actual person who went through reassignment at mid-life.

He led a completely normal or even hyper male life, playing men's sports. He worked in life as a man for twenty years and married as man. At mid-life he had surgery and insists he is a woman.

Let's discuss his internal life.
His experience base is that of man. His poltics and the way he sees the world is from a man's standpoint. He is trans-centric and not the least woman-centered.
There is no biographical evidence in the least of an internal life of anything other than having a male identity when you look at the free choices he made as well as the mode of gratifications he persued and chose. In short there is no autobiographical evidence of anything other than a male identity.

For a moment, we might look at his life history and do a word association in terms of the important events in his life.

High School - Men's football, wrestling.

Work History - A man in a suit.

Marriage - Husband. Tuxedo. Spouse - Wife. (still married)

Stop and consider when he hears music or sees pictures where he was when Martin Luther King died, or family or marriage or work. His associations and experience base in which he interprets everything in life he has experienced are socially male. He has no social constitution and actually no experience of being related to in the world as a woman.

I would say this is not a woman at all. I am not speaking of biology in any way, I am speaking of the constituting effect of his own choices, made from his own free will.

His inner life is that of a man's because he filled his life with the experiences that men have. In other words he constructed himself. Certainly he gave public testimony that he is a man of his own free will.

So why would you call this person a woman? I would say this is a fundamental problem with the trans movement. Much of it is absolute fantasy and is demeaning to women's lives and experiences.

I am not saying that all people who are reassigned are essentially determined by their assignments or by biology. But I am saying that people who led lives such as this man did, are not women. What I am saying is that saying that he is a woman because he lay on a table for a few hours will not remove his experience base and the way he understands the world. Saying that this person is a woman because his body has been modified is a basic male "skin deep" depiction of women. "If you look like a woman" then you are one. The source of this is the male view of women. They have no access to women's experiences, so a woman is - the way she looks.

No woman in the world has had the experiences this man has had. That is the answer to Bintalshamsa's question. He cannot experience the world the way Bintalshamsa does because his entire life and his experiential background is socially a man's backdrop. His interpretive backdrop is a man's. That's what his internal life is.

So why is this person considered a woman at all?

Nick Kiddle said...

Saying that this person is a woman because his body has been modified

is putting the arrow of causality in exactly the wrong direction.

Drakyn said...

Spirit, neither you nor I can truly speak for what a trans* woman who transitioned later in life feels. Unless you are telepathic; if thats the case, then please change your name to Xavier and start a school for gifted youngsters (because I want to go).
From what I've read though, many such women give accounts of deep denial of themselves and of fear of being found out.
Yes, such women did have externally granted male privileges. But, only the individual can say how her internalized privilege worked--as being trans* means you could internalize either or both sets of gendered messages.
So, this hypothetical trans*woman may have grown up struggling with low self-confidence due to her male appearance, distress because she was too feminine and too masculine, dreaming of someone coming to rescue her, etc.
Her experience may not be typically female, but her internal life at least isn't male.

And "of his[sic] own free will" is not necessarily true. Do you think it's easy for a male-assigned person to be feminine--or worse in many folks' eyes--to identify as a woman?
Even if this person was able to hide it or didn't realize as a child, don't you think that even memories of schoolyard games like smash the queer made an impact on this kid? No...I could never say that most late-transitioning trans*women lived a male life of their own free will.
To put it plainly, due to our queerphobic and cissexist society, it isn't "free will" to remain closeted or to develop camouflage.

Moreover, how common do you think white, well-off, middle-aged transitioning, male-assigned women are? Not nearly as common as you may think I believe. It's proof of our racist and sexist society that they are painted as the most important group of trans*people to talk about though.

I do not base gender on genitals. If a male-assigned, person asked if I could use female pronouns I would no matter what her appearance. Respecting a trans*person's gender only after they've had surgery is both cissexist and reinforcing the binary (and certainly in the case of trans*women, also sexist).

And I would appreciate it if everyone who comments here could respect the gender identity of trans*folks--even when speaking in hypothetical.

Drakyn said...

Cicily, I think on the surface "shared girlhood" makes sense--the thing is though, as many WOC and others have pointed out (and you probably realize this too), the feminist idea of a "shared girlhood" is deeply flawed in general by racism, classism, and US-centric thinking.
Even a shared white American girlhood is flawed because of how large the US is and how differently gender roles and female-assigned folks have been treated by different generations.
My little sister R will have a lot more in common with an out trans*girl of the same general age group than R will have with our cissexual aunts.

queen emily said...

>>>No woman has an experiemtial backdrop of living in life as a fully enfranchised man with male privileges

And you're not familiar with the concept of the "passing woman?" A female bodied person who lived hir life as a man, prior to the medical availability of hormones and surgery?

It's quite a well documented phenomena.

Oh look, your argument's gone all leaky from the holes.

Lisa Harney said...

Spirit, your first mistake is defining this woman's experiences in terms of your frame of reference. You say that she is, uncomplicatedly, a man. Or rather, you discuss her as if there is something in her very makeup that makes her different from a trans woman who transitions at an earlier age - that her life presenting outwardly as a male truly and completely reflects her inner life and how she's seen herself. You're not allowing any room for her to, for example, live as she did as a [i]coping mechanism[/i] as many trans people have described in their own personal histories.

The way you speak of this woman is, in fact, silencing. You're not allowing herself the ability to speak for her own experiences and life. You're defining her experiences and life in a manner that is convenient to your judgement - that she is really a man, and can never ever truly be a woman - but I don't get any impression that you have any real insight into this woman's inner life.

Stuff like this is particularly cissexist:

There is 'illogic' on both sides. The assertion that a middle aged man, going threw surgery is suddenly a woman rather reduces women to a vagina and breasts having no particular consitution from life. This is a male singularly male perspective that a woman is what they see having no internal life or any kind of a gendered standpoint.

Generally speaking, I rarely see trans women express this viewpoint. I do see cis people - men and women - express this opinion of how trans women see womanhood, but their insight into the workings of a trans woman's mind can be dismissed as biased and prejudiced. In this case, that's how you're coming across.

Seriously, you're just imposing your prejudices on your acquaintance's life, you're not really acknowledging who she is and what she has to say about herself. You're not better informed about her gender than she is, you don't have superior insight about her gender than she does, and you're not really making a convincing case that late transition means she's a man through and through.

Lisa Harney said...

Curse you, UBBCode!

queen emily said...

>>>Saying that this person is a woman because his body has been modified is a basic male "skin deep" depiction of women.

And if she *didn't* have medical changes, you'd deny her and inner life as a woman based on her appearance, right? Circular, circular.

Don't assume you know how other people experience life, it's arrogant and presumptuous.

Trans* women's experiences are not the same as men's. We are subject to violence, emotional abuse, familial expectations and a whole series of interventions designed to make us *be* the men we are not. You have no idea the discomfort and emotional that male role or body can cause us. We have been born with male bodies, but we were never male, and never experienced masculinity as men do.

I have been told by my girlfriend and friends that it is impossible to see me as emotionally male--I respond to life as a strong, complex, feminist woman. But you'll see what you want to see, right?

Lisa Harney said...

I also want to add that not everyone is able to transition as early as possible, and many people try hard not to transition because society's signals say there's something wrong with being a trans person - and of course, you're compounding that, Spirit, by adding that there's something even more wrong with being a middle-aged trans person.

Basically, you're holding her circumstances against her as a failing on her part. This isn't much different from blaming a diabetic for being diabetic.

Spirit said...

“And if she *didn't* have medical changes, you'd deny her and inner life as a woman based on her appearance, right? Circular, circular.”

Are you not imposing you’re your point of view on me? I didn’t say anything about that. Embedded in your statement is also a misattribution. I would say certainly that not changing ones body is exactly a reflection of one’s inner life. I don’t know any women that would choose to have a penis.

The validity of the claim of an inner life that is totally detached from observable behavior and even detached from the choices a person makes is most tenuous. What was his inner doing when he proposed marriage as a man to his wife? What was this inner life doing when he went out for a men’s football team and a men’s wrestling team, the apex of the cult of manhood? What was his inner life doing when he stood on an altar publically proclaiming he is a man, and said, “I [a man] take this woman to be my lawfully wedded wife?” What was this inner life doing such that it was OK for him to say that and to live as an adult man for twenty years? How detached from a person’s behavior must this “inner life” be, before one concludes that it wasn’t there?
These are not the experiences women have. What you are positing is the idea of an inner life that is so detached that it acts in the opposite direction of the very inner life you posit? Is one then not able to ask how strong this inner life is and indeed how meaningful it is at all? You mentioned the “passing” woman who lived as a man. So this is a woman, a depiction which argues against your very own position? Exactly who is it that is being circular?

The main theme here is the idea of an inner life that is totally submerged, invisible and detached from any observable behavior and one that is detached from an individual’s own choices. You’ll go as far as calling white male middle class agency “circumstances”. What is given primacy is a claim made in the absence of any observable behavior at all. Indeed the behavior was totally in alignment with men’s experience which is discounted and made insignificant in service to this “inner life” for which there is no evidence. More importantly, what is being discounted is what he learned in his chosen pursuits while out on field, in the men’s the locker room and at practice. You discount the things he sought out and what that means, all in service to this mysterious “inner life” one for which there is absolutely no autobiographical evidence. You are also discounting the socially constructing effects of his own choices abrogating any need for responsibility and accountability. The interesting thing is that this is exactly the way men are treated in this society. We do not hold them accountable or responsible for their own choices which is yet another a male privilege.

You say that I do not give him a chance to speak for himself, but I am saying he did speak for himself in the choices he made with full white male adult agency. No one forced him into the male institution of marriage, he sought it out. No one forced him into a men’s football team or wrestling. Most importantly, what is being discounted are the formative effects of his pursuits. These are the formative experiences that make men – men, experiences which are not even accessible to women. It is totally impossible for a person with this background to experience the world the way that someone who has been denied these formative experiences, experiences life.

What troubles me deeply is that you are willing to discount all of these choices and the life he chose and you would insist upon his entitlement to woman’s spaces, spaces that are designed for women to gather, protected from (and that is a deliberate choice of words) people who made choices identical from this person who said he was a man. So, let’s see how this all adds up. You give primacy to the claim of this man’s (he did say he was a man) inner life for which there is no evidence, over the protestations of women who construct spaces so that they will not have to endure people who made the choices that this man made? Might you see why I say that trans ideology parallels patriarchy? What is being silenced here are the protestations of women in service to male claims of an inner life for which there is no evidence.

“Basically, you're holding her circumstances against her as a failing on her part. This isn't much different from blaming a diabetic for being diabetic.”

No. I am holding him responsible for the choices he made. I am saying he self-constructed and he became a man based on his own choices. The diabetic does not choose a failing pancreas, but he did choose to insert himself into constructing situations and he did choose to fill his life with men’s experiences and as a result of his choices that’s what he is.

cicely said...

'Cicily, I think on the surface "shared girlhood" makes sense--the thing is though, as many WOC and others have pointed out (and you probably realize this too), the feminist idea of a "shared girlhood" is deeply flawed in general by racism, classism, and US-centric thinking.'

Indeed I do :-)

The thing is though, being a young exploring feminist and a lesbian in the 70's - and I used to regard myself as something of a radical - to the roots, but not that sexism *is* the original oppression - feminist, not being a stated seperatist, but mostly socialising with other lesbians who were also feminists, it was very easy for me to fall into the WBW concept. I spent a lot of time and energy over many years discovering, looking at and talking about differences in male and female socialised and politicised behaviours over at least the last two thousand years - (no, I'm not two thousand years old - you know what I mean) including male entitlement, male-centredness (male is normal, female is default), male egocentricity, etc. Things like studies that demonstrated how teenaged males, when given a written test which they were then deliberately failed in, typically came up with external reasons or excuses,(the neighbours had the music up loud and I couldn't study; it was a trick question) while teenaged girls typically took personal responsibilty. Of course, I thought, a person who was perceived and socialised as a male wouldn't be able to relate to my experience of the world. The accumulated effects of sexism over a lifetime. And what if some of these male behaviours and attitudes or ways of being are testosterone driven? Some nurture, some nature - all adding up to 'different' AND the sex that oppresses mine. It made sense that, even with all the other differences *between* cisexual women, we had certainly shared, from different places, this one thing in common. Through childhood and all of our lives we were the second class, dominated and brutalised sex wherever we were, *because* of our sex. AND we were useless without men - in terms of putting something like michigan together - apparently. But that wasn't true! It was never true!


I think it would be bloody wonderful if we could discuss all this stuff without fear or rancour, actually. Because it's real but it's not the whole story, far from it, and that's what I've come to realise. Or what I've learned I should say, from finally having the opportunity via the net to listen to trans women talk about their own lives. I've only ever met three trans women in real life, and I didn't talk to any of them in any depth about their lives. But I *did* bring my prejudices into my contact with one of these women when we had a slight political disagreement. (this was about 12 years ago now.) I resorted to 'she thinks she's right because she learned to think she's right when she was being perceived as and living among men. She got her university degrees before she transitioned. She thinks and argues like a man in relation to women, even though she's a woman herself.' Yep, I thought that. Too easy. Too, too easy.

queen emily said...

>>>>>>Saying that this person is a woman because his body has been modified is a basic male "skin deep" depiction of women.

damned if you do

>>>I would say certainly that not changing ones body is exactly a reflection of one’s inner life.

damned if you don't

That would be what *I* would call a circular argument.

Tell me, do you believe that a trans woman could *ever* be a real woman?

Spirit said...

"Tell me, do you believe that a trans woman could *ever* be a real woman?"

"Real woman" is not a conceptualization I subscribe to. The question is pretty meaningless.

I believe that someone who defines themself as trans and has a trans identity is not a woman afterall it is not the same identity and identity is the set of filters through which we perceive the world. WHat I am saying, is that opposed to "real woman", the identity of "trans woman" is totally bogus.

I could restate your question in a way that makes sense to me.

I do not privilege identity, nor do I believe it is flexible or fluid as queer/trans ideology would suppose. If a person forms and identity of X about the time that they begin speaking, I believe, for lack of better words, that is what they are. I do not believe there is any "figuring out" or later discovery.

I do not believe that someone who pursues life as a man and calls himself a man is ever a woman anymore than I believe in the trans concept of "real woman" vs "non-real woman".

">>>>>>Saying that this person is a woman because his body has been modified is a basic male "skin deep" depiction of women.

damned if you do

>>>I would say certainly that not changing ones body is exactly a reflection of one’s inner life.

damned if you don't

That would be what *I* would call a circular argument."

I wouldn't say there is any circularity to that at all since they are totally disconnected statements talking about two entirely different dimensions.

I agree with Cicely, it would be good if we discuss these things without acrimony. I also have a similar background to Cicely's.

But I would say that trans ideology is basically male and treats women's experiences the same way that men do to the point that there is a need to deconstruct "woman" itself. I do not subscribe to "woman-born-woman" because no one is born a woman. The are common experiences among women which is being situated and positioned in this society. That's common to all women.

Elly said...

Drakyn:

"Sorry, I didn't realize that English isn't your first language."

Cool, that means that I "pass" ? :)

Anyway, thanks for the explanations (and Stassa, too), I'll see on your definitions posts if I need more :)

Spirit:

"I would say certainly that not changing ones body is exactly a reflection of one’s inner life. I don’t know any women that would choose to have a penis."

That's funny because I personnaly was never asked if I wanted to choose a penis, a vagina or something in between. I, however, have the choice to undergo expensive surgery, which brings in other components than just the taste for having a penis or a vagina, such as my income, what i want to do with my money, my fear of surgery or my health.

What I mean is that it's not really straightforward to associate a behaviour (bearing with a penis) to a will or a choice.

That doesn't mean there is absolutely no connection either, just that it takes a lot of assumptions to deduce precisely the latter from the former.

It also works in the other sense : I know cissexual women who expressed their will to have a penis. That doesn't mean they were actually saving for phalloplasty (maybe if magic wands existed they would have used them to have a penis but the problem with this hypothesis is that it can't really be tested)

"These are not the experiences women have."

On the other hand, there are women who pratised football or wrestle (true, not in male teams. On the other hand, I don't think that a person identified as a male wanting to wrestle in a female team would be exactly welcomed) and were in long-term relationship with woman and are in a civil union (even marriage in some countries).

And even women who proclaimed there were guys, yeah, because even for a cisgender woman, it's sometimes easier to be assumed as male.

"The are common experiences among women which is being situated and positioned in this society. That's common to all women."

Doesn't this also works if you include all trans women, and also if you only include white anglosaxon protestant cissexual heterosexual women ?

Drakyn said...

But Cicely, it would be really cool if you were a two thousand year old vampire or something. ^.^

As soon as I found out that trans* women were barred from women's spaces I thought it was wrong.
The "shared girlhood" thing struck me as false because I went to a boarding school with a lot of kids from different countries. And, many of the American kids were really rich while most of the American kids I made friends with were really poor (even their books were paid for by scholarship).
My middle-class Korean friend's girlhood was nothing like the rich white American girls'. And neither was like the girlhood of my black friend who was basically raised by her, still working, grandmother while her mom worked multiple jobs just to keep afloat.
(Before anyone asks, I grew up in a middle class and somewhat rural life and was there on financial aid)

Moreover, I experienced my childhood seeing myself as a boy. I knew that others saw me as a girl, but I didn't know, or have the courage, to speak out about it.
I know not all trans*folk experience childhood like I did, but those memories really shaped my ideas on the supposedly uncomplicated male privilege transwoman are said to have.

And, it's becoming obvious to me that this shared girlhood definitely doesn't last through different generations.
Like my little sister has grown up being told she can do anything she puts her mind to if she'd only just try. With the idea that you marry late so that you can get to know yourself instead of hurrying into a marriage and kids and finding out that you and your husband are incompatible as adults. (my family is most definitely heterocentric, though my sister doesn't mind too much as she is straight).

I wish we could get some studies on the effects hormones have without sexism. Loads of trans*folk have said that there are differences, from sense of smell to how you perceive your emotions (though none of these sorts of effects are universal).

Spirit said...

"I wish we could get some studies on the effects hormones have without sexism."

The very question is sexist. It can't even be asked without it being sexist.

The analog in race is, "I wish I knew the real effect of a gram of melatonin on blacks explained in ways that are not racist."

That question.... is racist. As far as 'testimony' on experience of hormones. Placebo effect effect is very strong. How would you separate out placebo effect and "permission" to have and feel experiences that comes with hormones?

It is conceptualizations like this which is why I say that trans ideology is basically patriarchal. Trans ideology just reitterates basic inplace stereotypes.

Drakyn said...

I know a few women who have chosen to keep their penises and cis*women who think it would be cool to have one--but they'd want to keep their vag too (or switch like Ranma).

Spirit, this is your last warning. As you do not appear to be trolling, I won't delete your comments completely. If you continue to use male pronouns for someone who identifies as female I will delete your comments and re-post them with my snarky annotations.
I also suggest actually learning a bit about trans* people, what we say about our lives and experiences, etc.
That Trans 101 thread from feministe is a good start as are Queen Emily's and my "what being trans* feels like" posts.

Just because you do not experience something doesn't mean that it isn't real and that other people do not experience it.
You are cissexual; it is most certainly not your place to tell trans* folk how we experience things or to tell us we must be lying.

You know that some lesbians and gay men do not come out until middle age--after marriages and a few kids, right?
Since society sees trans* and queer folk as one in the same...so trans* folk have the same fucking reasons and blockades to coming out as any lesbian or gay man.
Or is a lesbian who came out only after decades of heterosexual privilege not welcome at lesbian events? Is she lying when she tells you of how she was really a lesbian all along?

There is no fucking "trans ideology" anymore than there is a fucking gay agenda.

Spirit said...

"I know not all trans*folk experience childhood like I did, but those memories really shaped my ideas on the supposedly uncomplicated male privilege transwoman are said to have."

Here you assume a monolithic experience. You imply there is no difference between the male classed child who says "I am a girl" at age two and sticks to that and the 45 year old man going through reassignment. Of course there is a difference in their experience and that manifests itself in their behavior.

But in order to prop up the validity of the forty-five year old husband, you absolutely decimate the experience of the two year old who is telling you that she is a girl. You cannot homogenize their experiences two different and distinct experiences, validate the man and not decimate the life experiences of all girls.

And yes, not matter what economic class, race, ethinicity a girl is, within that class, race or ethnicity we are still situated and positioned as girls. It is your analysis that is is denying the ways in which girls are situated and positioned.

Drakyn said...

yes, because smelling things differently is sooo patriarchal.

The brain is a computer. Hormones affect how the brain works; it makes sense that changing hormone levels changes how the brain works and how it perceives data.
It would be sexist if I said that more estrogen makes people irrational.

Drakyn said...

The four your old who tells her momma she's a girl and the forty your old who transitions after living a hyper masculine life actually can be the same person (give or take forty years).
I acknowledged that there are different experiences. I meant that my experiences caused me to immediately be skeptical of "WBW" arguments.

And many trans* women see the world seeing themselves as women even before coming out--you don't think that this makes a difference?

Spirit said...

". Hormones affect how the brain works; it makes sense that changing hormone levels changes how the brain works and how it perceives data.
It would be sexist if I said that more estrogen makes people irrational."

How male to call the brain a computer. it's capabilties far exceed what a computer can do.

This is basic male determinism and biological determinism.

If you bothered to read what feminist biologists say, it's pretty clear that biology is not a source of differences.

However, invoking this, is to invoke every justification that men have resorted in the oppression of women. Again, this is why I say that trans ideology is basic fundamental patriarchy.

Drakyn said...

I warned you Spirit...

"There is no fucking "trans ideology" anymore than there is a fucking gay agenda."

Really? The idea that man lays on a table for five hours and is suddenly a woman?

That is not something that most trans* people believe. I know I stated that I beleive the opposite--genitals do not make the person their gender.
The idea that living twenty years as a man has no effect on their experience? The total abstraction and annexation of what is to be a woman is not an ideology?
I do not think that trans* and cis* womn's experiences are the same. I believe that there is enough variation in cis*women's experiences that including trans*women in most women-only events would not be harmful. Obviously this isn't the case if the event is centered around experiences unique to those with female-assigned genitalia or reproductive organs (like childbirth) or around growing up being perceived as female.
The championing of an invisible inner life over actual lived lives?
Just because you don't experience something doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
The entitlement of men to women's space? The are not trans ideology?
Actually, a lot of us are really against having men in women's space. You should see the trans* forums I'm a part of when a trans*guy mentions going to a women's school--much less when a guy mentions going to MWMF.

The denial that there is a gay/black/Jewish ideology is the ultimate in slippiness, denial and evasiveness.

And you are damned right there is is a gay agenda. It is for gay people to have full access to the rewards of this society. Denying that does not help gay politics.
You know what people mean when they say Gay Agenda--the agenda the religious riech tells us (pedophilia, public sex, etc).
The so called "trans ideology" is the beleif that we should be able to tell our truths without being told we are lying or delusional. Or patriarchal because we won't be silent like good little trannies.

Drakyn said...

Please, I was drawing a comparison.

So you are saying that hormones have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the brain?
Because we just had this whole convo over at Feministe about depression and anti-depressants...

Drakyn said...

Another one of Spirit's comments:
"The four your old who tells her momma she's a girl and the forty your old who transitions after living a hyper masculine life actually can be the same person (give or take forty years). "

This is the kind of substance that you base your arguments on? I would submit that they cannot and are not the same person. I'd submit that they latter has no justification in terms of life experience for calling himself a woman. He is annexing women's lives in the absense of our experiences.


And you are calling trans*people liars.
You are silencing our words.
Have you ever heard of the term "denial"? Of refusing to accept something because it will change everything?
A lot of trans*people go into denial when they grow out of childhood. I went into denial in middle school and I tried to make myself a girl. I tried to be a "girly girl", I tried to be a tomboy, I tried to be a bookish girl. None of it worked. even though I refused to listen to myself, I was still a boy no matter what I did externally.


"I acknowledged that there are different experiences. I meant that my experiences caused me to immediately be skeptical of "WBW" arguments. "

I haven't made any. They are patriarchal.

If you hadn't noticed, I had addressed that comment to Cicely. Cicely, mentioned "WBW" arguments and gave her reasons for why she initially supported them. I responded with why I didn't and what experiences shaped this.

"And many trans* women see the world seeing themselves as women even before coming out--you don't think that this makes a difference?"

Yes. Although for late transistioners there is zero biographical content to colloborate that claim and there is an adulthood of choices that refutes the claim.


And you just called trans* folk liars again.
So, I suppose you want to kick the women who didn't come out as lesbians until middle age out of lesbian space? Since denial and societal pressure doesn't exist or something.

Drakyn said...

[long quote about a study on aggression and the analysis from Ann Fausto-Sterling's book Myths of Sex and Gender.]
Please show me where I said that hormones are the only or primary cause of sex/gender differences?
I happen to think it's a complex interaction between brain chemistry, hormones, childhood development, personal choices, social norms, life experiences, and soul.
"The championing of an invisible inner life over actual lived lives?"

Just because you don't experience something doesn't mean it doesn't exist."

What I am saying is that there is no bahavioral evidence that they experience it either.

Perhaps you should read a few trans* memoirs or other books? I recommend Julia Serano's Whipping Girl and Deborah Rudacille's The Riddle of Gender.
Or perhaps lurk on the LJ transgender community? Get to know some trans*women--or better yet, just listen to them until you can learn not to call them liars.

"The entitlement of men to women's space? These are not trans ideology?"

"Actually, a lot of us are really against having men in women's space."

We are talking about two different populations and calling them both men.

Trans*women aren't men; so naturally, I started talking about the only men I've ever heard about entering women's-space (other than little kids--they don't really count though).

I am calling the forty five year old who said he was a man and lived as a man - A man". I am calling him a man for two reasons. The first is that he said he was (despite this mysterious inner life). The second reason is that he chose to live as the man he said he was.
I already addresses this. A trans*women living her life pretending to be a man is NOT free will.
If you aren't going to read what we say perhaps you should leave. I hate repetitive arguments and if you are who I think you are you have nothing else but repetitive arguments.

One of the things you miss about MWMF is culture. MWMF is about women's culture. The introduction of trans culture which disrespects women's experiences, would be destructive and I know, women would not feel safe there, ESPECIALLY with people with penises present.
More on this monolithic group of trans* people... Do I need to make a Not A Monolith post too?
And plenty of trans* people respect women and their experiences. asking that your own experiences are also respected is not disrespect.

And plenty of women would rather not go to a women's event that excludes a group of women.

I don't care that much about MWMF; I brought it up because Cicely did and because of it's well-known policy.

Moreover, it is incredibly patriarchal to subscribe to the belief that the penis is powerful.

Spirit said...

Why are my posts being deleted?

I haven't used any profanity.

I am even having posts deleted with feminist academic research in it?

Why?

Drakyn said...

"A lot of trans*people go into denial when they grow out of childhood."

Erm.... what is it they are denying?

Their own gender; instead many of us listen to society and try to be the man or woman we know we aren't.

This is a very complex question that the trans movement does not deal with. You complain that "transpeople" are objectified while objectifying them. You talk about "who a person really is", whatever that means, without questioning what you are saying. Who and what is doing the denying and what are they denying?
Please, I always try to use words like most or generally because I hate generalizations. If I didn't use them somewhere it's because I forgot.
Trans* people, just like gay people, sometimes will deny who they are in order to protect themselves. Society is welcoming and open to neither queer folk or trans* folk. Many religions promise eternal hell if you are either.
Of course many people will try to be what they "are supposed to be" rather than who they feel they really are.

What agent is doing the denying? In short, I'm asking how many people are in one head?
haha, very funny; except not. One more cissesist and ableist comment like this and your comments get deleted.

Why is not alright to question a reported experience when people choices contradict the presence of a claimed experience.
Because you aren't questioning a person's experience; you are denying them outright.

And by the way, I haven't made any blanket comment about the groups of people that you call transpeople. I have said that there are late transistioners who cannot collaorate their
claimed experience." People do lie.

You are grouping all late transitioning trans*women together. Calling all of them liars and men.

You are overlooking what that denial means even at superficial levels. You are also over looking the formative effects of experience of both women and of people who clearly live as men and call themselves men. You seem to be in denial yourself of that impact.

I fucking said that trans* and cis* women have different experiences.
Read my fucking comments, don't just skim or cherry pick.

And are you Renne/Rainsong/Bliss/ETC?

spirit said...

"Moreover, it is incredibly patriarchal to subscribe to the belief that the penis is powerful."

I have said NOTHING about penis being powerful at all.

I am a rape survivor and I perceive people with penises to anatomically equpped to commit that act and they do not feel safe to be around. I want to be around people with penises as little as possible.

Drakyn said...

Read my comments.
"Spirit, this is your last warning. As you do not appear to be trolling, I won't delete your comments completely. If you continue to use male pronouns for someone who identifies as female I will delete your comments and re-post them with my snarky annotations."
I've decided that this holds true as long as you keep denying trans*women's experiences and calling late transitioning trans*women liars.

You can either respect trans*women in your language or you can leave.
This is a trans* blog; I won't tolerate blatant disrespect towards my sisters. (Or, if someone starts n about trans*guys, towards me and other trans*men)

I reposted your comments and I took out the book quote because it was very long. I did leave the name of the author and book so that someone can look it up if they feel so inclined (next time, instead of quoting dozens of lines of text, link to it online and quote the most relevant parts).

Drakyn said...

"I fucking said that trans* and cis* women have different experiences. "

This is exactly my point. This is why I say, trans identified people are not women.


Trans*women are women. Women with a different experience than cis*women, but both are types of women.

Drakyn said...

I ask this again and I would like an answer. Are you Renee/Rainsong?

Drakyn said...

The literature I quoted is not online. I did not get it fromm online.
Then next time you can summarize and quote relevant parts.

"If you continue to use male pronouns for someone who identifies as female I will delete your comments and re-post them with my snarky annotations."

Let's see if I understand you correctly

Someone who has lived fully as a man and persued life as a man and has socially male life experiences, must be called "she" because that is their identity? The persons identity trumps my experience and I must use those pronouns to describe a person that has lived as a man and called themself as man? I must adopt that trumping my own life and experiences?

The person I am describing still has male privileges in their marriage that women just do not have access to. It is ongoing privilge. You are saying I must ignore that? This person has a state sanctioned marriage while I cannot sponsor another woman for citizenship in order to have a relationship.


Puleese. Using female pronouns to refer to a trans*woman isn't hurting you.

This is the kind of pain that women experience and gather to heal from while you insist that they should also be entitled to those very same healing spaces?
You think trans*women don't experience sexism? Ha.

Please note that I did not use male pronouns.

You are still disrespecting trans*women by saying that they are men or that they are not women.

Spirit said...

"Puleese. Using female pronouns to refer to a trans*woman isn't hurting you."

But it does and it hurts me a lot.

In the parlance of the second wave (not Queer), I am a woman identified woman.

You are asking me to treat someone who has lived as a man and called themself a man and you are asking me to treat them the same as a people I love very much and whom I respect.

I believe it is an act of tantamount disrepect to women for me to appear that I see them in that light because I do not. You seem to be demanding that I be most untrue to myself and participate in what I see as being not true and that hurts deeply in many ways.

Historically, this is exactly what men have always demanded of women that we subsume our experience to theirs. Again, this is why we seek healing spaces. What you are requiring here is the exact same injury.

Are you willing to see that? You would demand that I behave towards a person as if I saw them in a light that I really don't see them at all? You would be demanding that I give primacy to someones elses experience rather than my own?

Drakyn said...

So, your theories trump trans people's lives?
You're sitting here, telling me that respecting our real, experienced lives are less important to yo than your theories. Theories that only work when you ignore and misrepresent trans* folk and our words and experiences.

If you can't see trans* women as anything beyond what society has told you they are, if you cannot at least give them the most basic respect then you can't comment here.
I don't care if you're a woman or a man, a feminist or a Christian fundamentalist.

Moreover, your comments are the exact same style and arguments that Renee, a well-known anti-trans* troll gives (despite the fact that she herself is transsexual).

Drakyn said...

Renee is a troll because she goes to different blogs and talks at people until she either loses interest or is banned. She refuses to compromise on language and will derail conversations until everything is about her.
Interestingly enough, she was banned from MWMF forums due to her behaviour (she is still mentioned there as her old s/n, Rainsong).
A couple people who knew her from other blogs and the michfest forums emailed me to tell me they recognized her.

Even if she isn't Renee, she was given warnings to change her language and instead chose to argue with me.
I don't appreciate being told I and other trans* folk must be lying.

belledame222 said...

"You're the vulgarian, you fuck!"

--A Fish Called Wanda

Lisa Harney said...

Oh, it's Rainsong, the queen of internalized transphobia.

I thought that might be a possibility last night, but I was tired enough to give the benefit of the doubt. Guess I was wrong to do so.

I apologize for trying to speak to this person as if she's a mature, intelligent person capable of actual debate. I see now she's just here to whine about calling a woman a woman, and that's just petty and small.

Drakyn said...

Listen, she never confirmed that she was Renee. Moreover, I'd prefer it if folks didn't talk about her since I'm not letting her comment here any more (whether or not she is Renee).

You can address her arguments, just not the woman herself.

thanks

Lisa Harney said...

I'm trying to see why it's disrespectful and mean to call Renee a trans woman when Renee is a trans woman, but it's perfectly okay to call another trans woman a man because Spirit doesn't like that she lived a few additional decades as a man.

In the one case, it's wrong and bad to impose an accurate definition on one person, but it's right and proper in the other case to impose an inaccurate definition on another person. This is hypocrisy, as well as fairly revealing.

Lisa Harney said...

Just to clarify, the previous post is aimed at Spirit's question about labeling Renee a trans woman, and not at drakyn's last post.

Drakyn said...

um, Lisa, I deleted that comment as it was after I told her not to comment here.
She implied I was a hypocrite and questioned me on calling Renee a troll.
Btw, the last time we saw Renee was over at feministe.
Something looks familiar, doesn't it...

Elly said...

What I don't really get from people trying to draw a line between "right transsexuals" and "wrong transsexuals" (either saying "true or false transsexual", "young or late transitionner" or whatever) is where the line is drawn.

A 30 year old one who transitionned at 15 is ok, but what about a 60 year old who transitionned at 30 ? Ok because lived 40 years as a woman ? Wrong because transitionned too late ? Ok only if not married ?

At least people who base their gender judgement on the genitalia only ask me what I have between my legs; with this approach I feel like I must send a gender resume (maybe with "biographical proofs") before it can be decided whether "he" or "she" should be used to define me.

Drakyn said...

Exactly Elly.
Where in that sort of thinking is the line drawn?
Is masculinity pre-transition alright it she identifies as a masculine or butch woman? Or can cis*women be the only true masculine women?

That's why I generally prefer allowing people to define their own experiences.

And did you find the definitions post helpful?

belledame222 said...

by the way, y'all have seen the Bernice Johnson Reagon piece, right?

We’ve pretty much come to the end of a time when you can have a space that is “yours only”—just for the people you want to be there. Even when we have our “women-only” festivals, there is no such thing. The fault is not necessarily with the organizers of the gathering. To a large extent it’s because we have just finished with that kind of isolating. There is no hiding place. There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. It’s over. Give it up.

Now every once in awhile there is a need for people to try to clean out corners and bar the doors and check everybody who comes in the door, and check what they carry in and say, “Humph, inside this place the only thing we are going to deal with is X or Y or Z.” And so only the X’s or Y’s or Z’s get to come in. That place can then become a nurturing place or a very destructive place. Most of the time when people do that, they do it because of the heat of trying to live in this society where being an X or Y or Z is very difficult, to say the least. The people running the society call the shots as if they’re still living in one of those little villages, where they kill the ones they don’t like or put them in the forest to die...

There is no chance that you can survive by staying inside the barred room.
(Applause) That will not be tolerated. The door of the room will just be painted red and then when those who call the shots get ready to clean house, they have easy access to you.

But that space while it lasts should be a nurturing space where you sift out what people are saying about you and decide who you really are. And you take the time to try to construct within yourself and within your community who you would be if you were running society. In fact, in that little barred room where you check everybody at the door, you act out community. You pretend that your room is a world. It’s almost like a play, and in some cases you actually grow food, you learn to have clean water, and all of that stuff, you just try to do it all. It’s like, “If I was really running it, this is the way it would be. Of course the problem with the experiment is that there ain’t nobody in there but folk like you, which by implication means you wouldn’t know what to do if you were running it with all of the other people who are out there in the world. Now that’s nationalism. I mean it’s nurturing, but it is also nationalism. At a certain stage nationalism is crucial to a people if you are going to ever impact as a group in your own interest. Nationalism at another point becomes reactionary because it is totally inadequate for surviving in the world with many peoples. (Applause)




Now when it comes to women—the organized women’s movement—this recent thrust—we all have had the opportunity to have some kind of relationship with it. The women’s movement has perpetuated a myth that there is some common experience that comes just cause you’re women. And they’re throwing all these festivals and this music and these concerts happen. If you’re the same kind of women like the folk in that little barred room, it works. But as soon as some other folk check the definition of “women” that’s in the dictionary (which you didn’t write, right?) they decide that they can come because they are women, but when they do, they don’t see or hear nothing that is like them. Then they charge, “This ain’t no women’s thing!” (Applause) Then if you try to address that and bring them in, they start to play music that ain’t even women’s music! (Laughter and hoots) And you try to figure out what happened to your wonderful barred room. It comes from taking a word like “women” and using it as a code. There is an in-house definition so that when you say “women only” most of the time that means you had better be able—if you come to this place—to handle lesbianism and a lot of folks running around with no clothes on. And I’m being too harsh this morning as I talk to you, but I don’t want you to miss what I’m trying to say. Now if you come and you can’t handle that, there’s another term that’s called “woman-identified.” They say you might be a woman but you’re not woman-identified, and we only want women who are “woman-identified.” That’s a good way to leave a lot of women out of your room.

So here you are and you grew up and you speak English and you know about this word “woman” and you know you one, and you walk into this “woman-only” space and you ain’t there. (Laughter) Because “woman” in that space does not mean “woman” from your world. It’s a code word and it traps, and the people that use the word are not prepared to deal with the fact that if you put it out, everybody that thinks they’re a woman may one day want to seek refuge. And it ain’t no refuge place! And it’s not safe! It should be a coalition! It may have been that in its first year the Michigan National “Women-Only” festival was a refuge place. By the fourth year it was a place of coalition, and it’s not safe anymore. (Applause) It ain’t safe for nobody who comes. When you walk in there you in trouble—and everybody who comes is trying to get to their home there...

Drakyn said...

Belle, that is an awesome essay--I'm reading the whole thing now.

cicely said...

Drakyn - I hear what you're saying about generational change - and the rest as well. I've certainly come to understand that a female experience that is not visible is still a female experience, and especially that gendered messages will be received in all kinds of ways - unique to the individuals who are trans. How they conduct their lives will also be individual, and I have no problem seeing why some-one might do everything that's expected of them as the sex they're presumed to be in order to fit in over many years. Especially up to now. If some of those things are rewarding even - hell, how could I begrudge them that much? And,yes re closet gay men and lesbians, I'm thinking of a woman I know who came out as a lesbian after her kids had grown up and left home and her husband had died. By then she was 60. She told me she'd been a lesbian all her life. She'd had het privilege, sure, but at great personal/emotional cost. There's no question that she would ever have been unwelcome at michfest, before or after coming out, although I've always understood michfest to be primarily a lesbian festival more than a general women's festival, where straight women who attend are very much a minority. A lesbian trans woman would take priority over a straight woman if there were priorities say because of lack of space, in my view.

Ok. So every single difference *between* cis women, some that impact dramatically and permanently on our life paths, and even make it difficult for us to understand each other, is accomodated at michfest. What has to be answered is why making *only* trans women unwelcome there is accepted as the *only* appropriate way to deal with their different female experience. For someone who's not transphobic, who doesn't accept feminist anti-trans beliefs or politics, who claims to be a trans ally outside michfest, that's the question.

cicely said...

Just saw and skimmed the essay, belle. Looks good. I'll have to print it off and read it while I work! Yes, going to work now....

Drakyn said...

Exactly Cicely.

And I just found this interesting and informative.

"A penis is only the ultimate arbiter of maleness if we choose to view it that way. There is nothing about a penis that is inherently so powerfully male that it should negate a trans woman’s female identity and gender expression, and the femaleness of her body. And there is nothing about a trans woman’s genitals in and of themselves that endanger the women around her. Penises may have that power when they are used to enact violence, but it is unfair of us to project the ideas we associate with penises onto the bodies of trans women and then expect them to act as if the most relevant thing about their bodies is the meanings we have decided they hold for us."

Lisa Harney said...

Er, sorry. That bit bothered me enough I wanted to comment on it.

And yeah, I agree with you on on the rest of your statement about similarities and Feministe. I also want to point out that the comments here about calling a late transitioning woman a woman being harmful mirrors some statements that Renee made on one of Emily's posts here.

Drakyn said...

No prob'.

queen emily said...

Btw where I said in that thread that I'd never referred to myself as female, I certainly do not feel that way any more (and haven't for a long time). I censored myself online for a long time in response to being attacked by just about every fucking person in my life when I'd dared to say that, yes, I identify as female. Of whom a large contingent were feminists who had actively supported me being "another kind of man."

Lisa Harney said...

Yeah, fun times. Been there, done that.

cicely said...

Great link, Drakyn. Another one to save and thoroughly absorb.

The stuff about the difference between 'comfort' and 'safety' reminded me of something I read somewhere. Not in the exact words, but the gist was that anti-discrimination laws are not designed to pander to people's sense or feelings of comfort - they're designed to challenge and overide them where they impinge on others rights. Sorry to be going on about michfest again, but the way things are going in Michigan it may soon be illegal to discriminate against transgender and transexual people there. That ought to ring alarm bells for some boundary supporters, surely.

On the other hand, I think the reason trans women are supposed to police themselves out of attending the festival is because the owners have always been unwilling to do anything that looks like a 'no trannies allowed' sign or document, first because it looks crass, and second because it may eventually open them up to legal challenge. There is actually such a case pending in Oz around a WBW event that refused to sell a ticket to a woman who identified herself as trans. I think her name is Tracy O'neill. The organisers are arguing that Tracy's presence would have upset the dynamic of the event. That's about as vague as you can get, I think, and what's important, or the best strategy, is to keep asking questions until the real specifics are brought out, and then to address those one by one.

bint alshamsa said...

I'm sorry for posting and then not coming back to the conversation. I've been out with a cold and it seems that while I was gone, the very smart readers of this blog have done a better job of responding than I could have.

*kisses*